Clock ticks on EU law after new delay

EU againEU chiefs have yet again delayed the vote on the proposed Data Protection Regulation – this time until just before the summer recess in July – reinforcing claims that it may not be ratified before new elections in May 2014.
German MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht, who is charged with steering the legislation through to the final vote, said that although several meetings have been held and some agreements have been reached, more discussions are needed.
Confirming that the committee will not be able to vote on May 29 as planned, Albrecht said he believed compromises can be adopted with a broad consensus and that a vote is still possible before the summer recess in July. However, even if vote goes through, there will need to be more discussions between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission.
It is still possible that the Regulation might be adopted by the middle of 2014, although according to Ruth Boardman, partner & co-head of Bird & Bird’s International Data Privacy Practice, this will require substantial compromise largely on the part of the Commission and the Parliament.
In a recent paper on the subject, Boardman added: “There might well be a blocking majority of at least 88 weighted votes in the Council under ‘qualified majority’ voting to ensure that no progress could be made on many elements of the proposal. Many Member States might, often for different reasons, prefer the arrangements under the current Directive 95/46/EC.”
The Information Commissioner’s Office is urging companies to prepare for the new rules, as it believes they will be passed eventually – even if it takes a number of years. Speaking at a recent DataIQNow event, ICO business and industry group manager Dave Evans told delegates that no one was sure when the Regulation would be passed, but insisted: “Stuff is going to happen, and we should be prepared.”
He added: “Our advice is don’t panic. If you think the sky is going to fall in, you are going about it the wrong way. Companies should take this as an opportunity to look at their current practices.”

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